Wednesday, June 13, 2007



The Dichotomy of Death Delivery

Yesterday I watched a documentary on voodoo, and learned some new and interesting things. Which isn't a surprise seeing as I never consciously attempted to learn anything about voodoo, other than what I picked up from James Bond and Monkey Island.

But now, thanks to slightly more responsible media program, I feel I have a basic understanding of voodoo. See, the voodoo religion is all about appeasing the spirits to intervene on behalf of voodoo practitioners. And spirits tend to be kind of coy and non-committal unless you offer them the freshest, warmest blood you can, imbued with life force. So that's when you get yourself a goat, or perhaps even a big fat calf to sacrifice to the spirits.

It was at this point, where I found myself most intrigued. See, when someone says, "Voodoo requires animal sacrifice!" you think to yourself, "By Jove! What a nasty, heathen practice, hardly acceptable in today's modern and civilized society!" Then you adjust your monocle and take a sip of tea.

But after the Voodoo practitioners sacrifice the animal, capturing every bit of blood for the spirit, they cook and eat the animal. Every bit of the animal. How is that any different from a butcher slicing up a lamb, and selling a thigh off to Grandma for Sunday Dinner? If anything, the butcher might be more wasteful, depending on what he does with the blood.

So I found myself thinking that perhaps what makes Animal Sacrifice seem so alien to the western mind is the atmosphere in which it's sacrificed. The voodoo practitioners dance about, and sing to the spirit, and when the time is right Mr. Goat meets Mr. Knife. The western practice of butchering an animal for food — and here I'm speaking of traditional butchering, as opposed to mechanized slaughterhouses — is a solemn occasion. It is done as quickly and efficiently as possible, and is a very businesslike transaction.

So while one ritual celebrates the animal's sacrifice with dance and song, the other is more comfortable approaching the animal's sacrifice with silence and detachment. It all comes down to a cultural preference for what constitutes "respecting" death.

Of course, in voodoo, women possessed by the Spirit line up to drink mouthfuls of the goat's blood. That looks kind of bad.

But then, in western culture, women and men possessed by alcoholic spirits get all loosy-goosy and make out at parties. I'm not sure that looks any better.

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Design Monkey

I love that the one guy doesn't even bother to explain why he made the voodoo doll in the first place. Instead, he just moves straight to "ploik"ing the doll.


Well... he worked so hard on it — he should be able to enjoy it as soon as possible!

mr chips

How inconsiderate is that guy! I would be honoured if someone hated me to the point of making a small effigy to ploik.


It's the highest form of flattery! Higher than plagiarism!

k.t. Strasse

what if he had multiple voodoo dolls, and he got them mixed up? or what if he accidentally made the doll in the likeness of himself? it seems dangerous, living in a world where everybody is identical.


Haha - that's true - I guess the guy on the right always has to make sure the doll is facing in the correct direction...


Maybe there's a third guy, just out of frame, with his head spinning. Reminds me of the Tennents Lager advert from a while back...


Over here the butcher uses the blood the make black pudding. Mmmm...

Does that make us voodoo?

Russer Butter

Only if you dance around in a circle first.


Robert - Haha - that's a pretty funny commercial. And much less erotic than I originally imagined!

Pierce - Russ is right. Or if you're using it to punish other puddings.

Paul Annett

A bunch of us from Brighton went to see famous UK psychological illusionist Derren Brown's stage show last weekend, which was very good. Your sketch reminds me of a very creepy clip called "Voodoo", from one of his recent series... you should take a quick look.


Oh man... That girl totally looked like a doofus! Or even... a voodoofus...


I found a voodoo sacrafice one moring outside my house while walking the dogs. It was two skinned and beheaded cats and come curry looking spices wrapped around a tree. defenetly not eaten. Glad I saw it before one of my dogs tried to eat it.


Ughhh - that sounds more like a message from the squirrel contingent, to the cat contingent of your neighborhood.


I spent a bit of time in Brazil, and their is much of this voo-doo stuff going on down their, it's not called voo-doo, but it's the same thing...

Anyhow I used to always see the left over plates of offerings everytime I walked past a cememtary, it was a bit creepy...

Especially since ants and other bugs and animals would be the ones eating these offerings, and never once was it actually spirits.

Someone is getting seriously jipped!


Maybe those were spirits after all! Were any of them wailing and rattling chains?

Crazy Nut

The two are not so different.
One sacrifices the pig to the spirits, and one to the Almighty Dollar.

His Royal Majesty

...or; one sacrifices the pig to the spirits, and the other sacrifices the spirit to the pigs.


How do you sacrifice a spirit?

König Bonifaz

By drinking very solemnly?


Yeah, voodoo is really great. Especially when its practitioners sacrifice puppies on graves.

Maybe there's more of a difference between the Western mind and the African mind than you originally thought?


Plenty of Western-minded people have killed or abused puppies, MT.

And it's not like I'm suggesting everyone become a Voodoo priest. So no more accusatory tone, k?


Names is for tombstones, baby!

How true.



Thanks for he ethnographic/anthropological approach. Animals are not pets everywhere. And look at how cows and chickens are treated to make veal and KFC. I think the voodoo practitioners are probably more humanitarian than the Westerners.


sorry... i think i mean "humane"


kevin, i made nocoins a voodoo doll of me to commemorate our 10 year break-up anniversary. i thought it was fitting. i even provided the pins. no animal sacrifices though.
great post!

tod rhodes

I once made a crude voodoo likeness of my friend, but when I poked it with a twig I found, the effects were too strong. After thinking about the problem for a while I thought it best to make a smaller doll with a vague likeness to the original doll. The poking effect was greatly reduced, now once removed, but still a rather intrusive.
After what seemed like DAYS of testing I ended up with six degrees of crude likenessaes in ever decreasing miniatude and the effects were now more of a mild irritation.
I highly recommend it. Although it was a nuisance keeping all the smaller ones facing the right way.


So what if I'm looking for a bit more than mild irritation? Would you recommend 5 degrees? 4?

I'd basically like "crippling back pain" for Mojo. I mean...

....someone I know.

tod rhodes

In that case, I'd try 3 degrees, maybe even 2 and a half if he's been particularly impertinent. I'd be careful of getting too close as there is the risk of what I like to call 'A needle trail'.
Since Mojo is kind of doll-like himself, maybe you could stick needles in a real monkey, would that work in a kind of reverse voodoo way ? would that make it oodoov ?


I never thought of trying that. Looks like I'll need to get my hands on a REAL monkey...

Do they come in blue?

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